Darcy's Possibly Happy Childhood: Chapter 8

I used Chapter 8 of A Man of Few Words to provide a little more information about Darcy's childhood.

Austen siblings often have close relationships.
Henry and Eleanor Tilney protect each other, and their rakish
brother, against their father.

It is customary to give heroes and heroines difficult family relationships. After all, it is more dramatic! And, to be fair, a number of Austen's characters do have dysfunctional home lives: Anne Elliot, Henry Tilney, Edmund Bertram, and Elizabeth herself. On the other hand, Catherine Morland, the Musgroves, Elinor's immediate family, and Emma all have good relationships with their families.

Even those without good relationships rarely spend time agonizing over their family issues--not a lot of Freudians in this crowd!

Darcy is one of Austen's characters who had a very happy childhood. His own description follows:
As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own.
In other words, Darcy's pride though partly the result of how he was raised is not in any way the result of poor treatment: neglect or abuse.

This raises an interesting problem: can too fond treatment actually hurt a child as much as poor treatment?

Setting that issue aside, the point is that Darcy has not been damaged by his past.* Not only is his pride not the result of poor treatment; it isn't even the result of deliberate brainwashing: "Son, you are better than anyone else; don't you forget it!" Darcy's pride is actually much closer to that described by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. In a letter to Wormwood, Screwtape suggests how to exacerbate (spiritual) pride:
[She has] a quite untrouble assumption that the outsiders who do not share [her beliefs] are really too stupid and ridiculous . . . it is not, in fact, very different from the conviction she would have felt at the age of ten that the kind of fish knives used in her father's house were the proper or normal or "real" kind, while those the neighboring families were "not real fish knives" at all. Now the element of ignorance and naivete in all this is large . . .
Screwtape then goes on to discuss how Wormwood can use this perspective to push the cliquey idea of "us versus them."

The attraction of a clique or set to someone like Darcy is not the attraction of being superior to others ("We are so much more beautiful, successful, likable than you"), which is the Crawfords' type of pride in Mansfield Park. For Darcy the attraction of the clique lies in MY family, MY friends, MY people versus Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine, etc. etc. etc.

And people with happy childhoods know what it is like to have an "us."

*One reason I decided to write A Man of Few Words was the occasional P&P tribute that tried to give Darcy some type of youthful trauma. One tribute even went so far as to give Darcy youthful trauma involving Wickham; in this particular book, Wickham is painted as some kind of debauching bully at the age of 9 or 10, which characterization indicates a complete misreading of the original text. Wickham's duplicity is the farthest thing in the world from bullying and his intrinsic amorality does not take an obvious form. Darcy himself was a "young man" when he began to suspect Winkham--not a child. 

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